- Beyoncé recently shared behind-the scenes-moments of her 2018 Coachella performance in the Netflix documentary Homecoming.
- Here, her backup dancer Amandy Fernández opens up about what the experience was like-and how she ended up dancing for Beyoncé.
Whether you were in the audience of Beyoncé's history-making performance at Coachella in 2018 or you just watched her new Netflix documentary about the show, Homecoming, it's likely you've found yourself rapt by the entertainer's electrifying talent. Even if you've been married for years, it's nearly impossible not to sing in unison to "Single Ladies," and during your most relaxed moments, odds are you'll automatically start tapping your feet to her Latin-infused verse on "Mi Gente" with J Balvin and Willy William.
But while any Beyoncé performance is clearly all about Mrs. Carter, a Beyoncé show is simply not a Beyoncé show without her crew of backup dancers, each on stage to flawlessly-and fiercely-emphasize the singer's every note and move.
For Coachella, dozens of female and male dancers from all over the country were handpicked by Beyoncé and her team to back her up at her most important concert to date. Among them was Amandy Fernández, a Dominican-American dancer who got her start dancing in the Bronx, New York as part of a dance crew called Project Valentine. In 2012, she auditioned and landed a spot in Beyoncé's now-iconic music video "Run The World."
Since, Fernández has been dancing alongside the pop star at her biggest events, from Beyoncé's 2017 Grammys performance to her 2018 joint summer tour with her husband, Jay-Z, "On the Run II." But, Fernández says, it was being on stage at Coachella last year-and then reliving the moments all over again in Homecoming-that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The choreographer called me and asked me if I was available, and I know for some other dancers, it was the same process-but also agencies suggested dancers, and then they were selected based on their performance,” Fernández tells OprahMag.com. “I was very excited because I know that everything she does is major, and I'd never performed at Coachella, so I was ecstatic about that.”
For several months before the big day, Fernández says the entire Coachella crew met daily in Los Angeles to learn the choreography, which fans get a glimpse of in the behind-the-scenes footage Beyoncé shares in the Homecoming documentary. Fernández remembers that during practice, Beyoncé emphasized that she didn't want the moves to feel technical, but rather a reflection of each dancer and how they were feeling.
“We rehearsed like eight-plus hours a day-sometimes 10 hours or 12,” says Fernández, adding that they were led by creative directors and choreographers Chris Grant and JaQuel Knight, whom Fernández says were very open to "taking suggestions from any of the dancers."
Fernández remembers the months leading up to the big show as some of the hardest of her life. But she adds that the crew had a lot of fun, recalling one day in particular when the dance team arrived to the rehearsal warehouse to find Easter eggs with prizes scattered everywhere. “It was an egg hunt!" Fernández says. "Everybody was going crazy trying to grab an egg. Some people won Starbucks gift cards, others even got a hundred dollars!"
For any dancer, in addition to choreography, a very important aspect of the show is the wardrobe. For Beyoncé's performance, Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing designed the costumes in collaboration with Beyoncé and her stylist, Marni Senofonte.
"This particular show we didn’t have as many costume changes as we regularly do," Fernández says. But there was one special outfit perk for the dancers: They all got to keep their berets. “I’m keeping it safe in a very special place, but if I want to look cute one day, I wear it!” she says.
In addition to costumes, hair and makeup were also key elements for each of the dancer's looks.
“Beyoncé was the one who decided that we all are going to wear wigs, because she wanted us to have a uniform look since the show was inspired by Historically Black Colleges and Universities," says Fernández.
The New York native has also danced alongside names including Jason Derulo, Chris Brown, Madonna, Missy Elliott, and Bruno Mars. But she emphasizes that for her, dancing alongside Beyoncé has been a dream-and it's also taught her some important lessons about work ethic.
“She’s such a hard worker. The majority of the time, she has so much going on, worrying about the music, the lights, and she's also the artist-but she is also a person that is very humble and accessible,” Fernández says. She adds that nothing compares to knowing that all of that hard work was about to pay off when Coachella finally arrived. “As soon as we came in on the buses, we were just like ‘These people are not ready for what they are about to see,'" she laughs.
Fernández points out that she was the only Dominican-American dancer that danced on stage at Coachella. For her, that fact is just further motivation to dream big-and she hopes it will inspire others, too.
"Being part of that moment was life-changing for me. It was a blessing to be part of a show like that. I never thought that I would be dancing for Beyoncé, but I knew that I wanted to dance, and despite what people tell you, my story is proof that if you stay motivated with a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, anything is achievable," she says.
Sounds a lot like Beyoncé is passing along the same work ethic she sings about in the well-known lyrics of her song "Formation" to her dancers: "I dream it/I work hard/I grind 'til I own it..."